Ballynamona Lower : Court Tomb

Grid RefX 288 836
GPSX 28755 83567 (8m)
Longitude7° 34' 52.44" W
Latitude52° 0' 12.68" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDungarvan (9.8 Km)
OS Sheet82
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 15th June 2003

This is one very remote site! I think that deciding to come here stopped me getting to at least three of the sites that I had intended to see today. This doesn't particularly bother me, because those places will still be there next time I venture this way and I can now say that I've been to Ireland's most southely court tomb .

The tomb is just one hundred meters from the cliff-top, from where you can see east all along the stunning coastal cliffs as far as Co. Wexford.

The tomb is protected by a rather rustic looking fence, which unsurprisingly does not leave a lot of space around the monument. You approach looking into the court, which would have been very impressive - 7m wide and 6m deep. Just a few of the very large court stones remain standing.

The gallery, on the other hand, is almost perfect. The style is somewhat unusual in a few respects, but it is most definitely a court tomb gallery . The walls each consist of two slabs, which are 1.5m long and a little over 1m tall. Where these stones meet there is a single slab that divides the gallery into two chambers. This slab is just 20cm shorter than the width of the gallery.

The entrance is marked by two very small jambs, which are set inside the front edges of the wall stones.

Court tombs have several distinctive characteristics that allow easy identification when in fair condition. One key feature that is a great help, no matter what the condition, is that court tombs are nearly always aligned north to south. They were all originally covered by a cairn, but in most instances this is now missing, or at best only remain to a height of one or two metres. The easiest feature to identify (when intact) is obviously the court. The rest of the tomb is occupied by a long, divided, passage-like gallery.

Galleries of court tombs can usually be identified by their characteristic boat-shaped plan, i.e. the gallery, when viewed from above, is flat at the entrance and tapers to a point or narrow width at the rear. The gallery may be segmented into up to five chambers by jambs, the walls normally being made of large slabs. The roofs were created by laying large slabs across the gallery, either directly on to the tops of the wall slabs or resting on corbel stones. Two large stones, with smooth forward-facing faces, usually create the entrance and it is possible to identify a court tomb when only these stones remain. The gallery would have been covered by a cairn of stones, sometimes with a kerb.

Single Gallery Variations:
Most often called a 'Single Court Tombs, usually this style has a half-court, a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of stones in front of the gallery (see Ballymacdermot (County Armagh)). This is usually, but not always, symmetrical about the centre line of the gallery, although occasionally the centre line of the court forms a slight angle with the centre line of the gallery. The other option is a full-court formed a complete circle of stones (see Creevykeel (County Sligo)). These full-courts mainly have one entrance allowing access, which is usually opposite the entrance to the gallery.

Double Gallery Variations:
Double-gallery court tombs come in three styles, the last of which is very unusual. The first is where the chambers are built facing away from each other. These are usually referred to as ŽDouble Court TombsŪ (see Cohaw (County Cavan)). The galleries sometimes share the same rear stone, but more often there is some distance between them Ů ranging from one to ten metres. This style has a half-court at each end of the monument, one facing north and the other facing south. In this style both galleries would have been covered by the same cairn.

Tuning round the two tombs and placing the two galleries so that the entrances face each other, across a full court, creates another style, known as a Centre-Court Tomb. Access to this court is gained through entrances placed (usually) in the east and west sides of the court. Here there would have been two cairns, one at each end, but they would have been joined down the sides of the court by a low cairn.

The third and very uncommon form is where the two galleries are located side-by-side facing into a full court with an entrance opposite (e.g. Malin More).

Subsidiary Chambers:
Quite often you will find other chambers built into the cairn. In single-gallery tombs and double court tombs these are invariably located to the rear of the gallery. Centre court tombs often have them placed near to the entrances.

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Sunday, 4th February 2007

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 3 years since I visited this great site. Ever since my previous visit I have wanted to come back in the winter when (hopefully) the vegetation around the monument is a little lower.The problem is that the site is so far away from Dublin and in the winter it can be a long, difficult drive.

My efforts today were rewarded, though, with much lower vegetation. I could also see further up the coast to the east, too. The views to the south stop at the lighthouse a short distance down the coast. When standing by the stones it's hard to picture that this site is so high above the sea, but the fact that you can't hear the surf does help to remind you of this.

There is now a "Beware of the Bull" sign on the gate, but on this visit there was no sign of one. This does not mean that there is never a bull in these fields, though, so take care if you visit here.

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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